Masters In Divinity Information Guide

Divinity is used to define the study of different faiths and belief systems. In Christian theology, this degree prepares students to work as a pastor, priest, or in other parts of the ministry. This is the path for students who are interested in religious studies and pursuing work in the professional ministry. For students interested in teaching, an advanced degree can prepare you for a career in religious studies.

This program generally requires students to complete somewhere between 72 and 106 credit hours and focuses on coursework in various theologies, philosophy, Old Testament, New Testament, church history, Christian education, canon law, and more. Credit hours vary by program; 72 is commonly the minimum requirement, though some schools require more coursework. Some degrees may even require a thesis, upon completion of the program.

Best Masters of Divinity & Other Religion Degrees

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree involves the study of Christian theology. This degree is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession in the United States. Holders of this degree are typically prepared for pastorship, priesthood, or professional ministry. Studies include Scripture studies, pastoral theology, Hebrew, liturgical studies, canon law, philosophy, and more. Below is a list of the most popular online colleges offering an M.Div. or related degree.

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More Information About a Master of Divinity

Master of Divinity Careers at a Glance

The Master of Divinity (MDiv.) is the first level of professional degree needed if you are interested in a career as a pastor or minister, or another career path in religious scholarship or as clergy. Many religious organizations require this degree for anyone wishing to be ordained as a priest, pastor, or other appointment, ordination, or licensing in the field of professional ministry.

Types of Masters of Divinity Degrees Available

There are a variety of degree options for students interested in divinity, religious studies, or careers in ministry. Typically, Master of Divinity degrees take three years, a full year longer than many master’s degrees in the humanities. Master of Divinity degrees can require up to 90 semester hours for completion, and cover a wide variety of subjects, from biblical Greek to far-east philosophies. Some of the degree titles that are available at seminaries or other schools of theology are:

Average Salary Figures for Someone with a Master of Divinity Degree

While salary shouldn’t be the sole reason for entering a religious position, the competitive pay can be a definite bonus for someone who has this type of degree. The average salary with a Masters in Divinity is generally in the area of $35,000 yearly. Those who work hard, and are promoted within an organization after years of experience can see their salary increase to as much as $55,000 per annum.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Masters in Divinity Degree Programs

Obtaining a master of divinity degree is an excellent choice, but affording such an education can seem like an impossible task to some. There are many financial aid options, especially governmental, low-interest loans, that most students can access, so if you’re really passionate about going back to school, don’t let the cost deter you. Additionally, there are Masters of Divinity scholarships and grants that any student would do well to consider.

Potential Careers for Master of Divinity Graduates?

People who pursue a Master of Divinity are usually doing so because they want to become clergy or another integral member of a church or religious institution’s leadership. There are more ways to be involved in a religious mission than being a pastor or priest though. Here’s a list of a few jobs you can get in the religious establishment where your Master of Divinity will be useful, but you don’t have to be ordained:

  • Educator: Teaching theology or bible classes doesn’t require ordination, but does require deep and intimate knowledge of religion, spirituality, and dogma, all of which you’ll likely get while earning a Master of Divinity degree. If you want to combine a passion for religion with a desire to teach the next generation, becoming a teacher or professor could be the career path for you, and with a Master of Divinity, you’ll be as desirable a candidate as anyone else on the job market.
  • Writer/Scholar: Religion suffuses every part of American life, and while there are those who are glad about this, and promote it, there are also those who vehemently battle the presence of religion in places they believe it is inappropriate. There are whole books, magazines, and blogs dedicated to talking about religion, interpreting religious texts, and examining the intersections between religion and politics, entertainment, and science. If your interest in divinity is primarily intellectual, why not share your thoughts?
  • International Mission Work: Plenty of religious organizations send workers abroad to provide aid in the developed world, or just spread a religious message. If you’re interested in travel, and you want to put your Master of Divinity to use, check out a few international aid organizations, or look into mission work opportunities in your own faith community.

Courses Offered at Schools of Theology

Though the requirements for completing a Master of Divinity are heavy, you’ll likely have the opportunity to take some elective courses while you’re in school, and the courses offered at schools of theology can deepen your appreciation of many cultures and systems of belief. A few courses you may be required to take, or might just take on the side, depending on your path to graduation, are as follows:

  • Old Testament/New Testament: These courses will be required for any degree at a theological seminary. There are more printed copies of The Bible on Earth than any other book, and the story of Christ is integral to several of the world’s most prominent religions.
  • Spiritual Formation: This class is about exploring the interface between a person’s faith and spirituality and the rest of their life. Consciously attending to the spiritual side of existence and picking up habits such as prayer and meditation are well explored techniques for engaging with religion outside of church, and there are whole courses on the subject available to Master of Divinity students.
  • Theological History: Whole scholarly careers have been founded upon the analysis and arguments surrounding utter minutia in the Bible. Studying Biblical history, or the history of any significant place or person that is important to a religious backstory, can enrich your religious experience.

Cost of an M.Div. Program

Because Master of Divinity programs take so many more credit hours than many other master’s programs, they may end up being more expensive, but because of their religious nature, there may also be unusual sources of financial aid. Churches are often willing to help pay for the education of new clergy or other church leaders. Additionally, the increased earnings statistically likely to come your way once you’ve earned an M.Div. should take the edge off the cost of those extra credits. Using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and talking to a financial adviser at your theological seminary are the best ways to gauge how much of your education bill you’ll be stuck with after completing your degree.

Find a Program and Ask Questions About It

Researching degree programs can be an arduous process, so it is important to make sure you get the most out of it, and sometimes this means going straight to the source. You can find links to top accredited online Master of Divinity programs through this site, and get in touch with the schools themselves for more details about pricing, scheduling, and curriculum.

Looking for an M.Div. degree?

Use the degree finder below, and we'll help you find a Master of Divinity program.

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